The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick has blasted Nigerian authorities for attempting to push him out of office, insisting he will stand his ground and not give in to “sociopaths”.
Last month, in the midst of a period of intense unrest within the leadership of African football, Pinnick, a strong ally of FIFA president Gianni Infantino and a constant figure of controversy, was charged along with four others by a federal court on allegations of corruption and suspended.
The five were apparently arraigned for alleged mismanagement of an $8,400 grant from FIFA.
In a 17-count charge filed before the Federal High Court in Abuja, the money was said to have been paid by FIFA to the NFF as appearance fees during the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Named with Pinnick and a vice-president of the Confederation of African Football – in the charge, were NFF Secretary Sunusi Mohammed, 1st Vice-President Seyi Akinwumi, 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh.
The defendants were also accused of “moving dishonestly and intentionally the sum of about N4bn ($11.1 million)” belonging to the NFF without the consent of the federation.
Despite the court ruling, Pinnick was a conspicuous figure at last week’s FIFA Congress in Paris and at a CAF summit which preceded it.
Pinnick’s own case has been largely pushed into the background amid ongoing coverage of Ahmad’s conduct as CAF leader which came under a barrage of scrutiny in Paris when he was questioned by French authorities over a contract allegedly broken with Puma in December 2017 and placed with French company Tactical Steel.
Ahmad was released without charge but should he at any stage be removed from his position as CAF president, Pinnick, as the next most powerful CAF official, would almost certainly step into the role on an interim basis.
Yet there are reservations about his own credentials after being charged at home with criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, theft and criminal misappropriation.
Pinnick says the charges are completely unfounded
“This is about certain individuals who are sociopaths and you can quote me on that,” Pinnick told Insideworldfootball. “They just want me to lose my credibility. That’s the A to Z of what is going on. They don’t want us to be independent, simply as that.”